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Nature Early Spring Plants

Photo Story: Early Spring Plants

Daffodil
Mayapple
Bloodroot
Buttercup
False Rue Anemone


Daffodil
Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus

DaffodilsFrom February to April you can see clumps of these small daffodils in fields near the road. Why are they there? Very likely they mark an old house site. Over the years daffodils multiply and spread. Today there are several showier kinds you can buy, but years ago this was all they had. 

Daffodils are natives of Europe and came across the Atlantic with the earliest settlers. Over the years people took them along as they moved west. Neighbors would share extra bulbs with a friend who wanted to have a bright spot of spring color by the doorway. That's how daffodils moved from place to place.


 

 

Mayapple
Podophyllum peltatum

In April around here, the Mayapples pop up through dead leaves in the woods and unfold their large green "umbrellas." They can carpet a large area of forest. After a couple of weeks, white flowers peek out from under the leaves. Then the "apples" begin to swell until they turn into round fruits. You can actually eat them raw. Some people make jelly or jam from them. But don't eat the stems, leaves, or roots, which are poisonous.

This "umbrella" is just beginning to open.
The flower is underneath the leaves.
It's creamy white and waxy with yellow stamens and green pistil with a nubby top. Pollen from the stamens will fertilize the pistil. A fruit will begin to form.
Here the pistil is beginning to swell into the "apple."

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Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

I found these Bloodroots in early April. They were growing at the base of a wooded hillside. You can see how they got their name! Native American tribes used the juice from the roots for face paint and dyeing the quills of their arrows.

The leaves are lobed.

See the "blood!"

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Buttercup
Ranunculus hispidus

I found Buttercups in late March near where I found Bloodroot. They were at the base of a rocky wooded hillside.

There are many kinds of Buttercups.  The leaves here divide into three sections on top of the leaf stem.
Their bright yellow color reflects the early spring sunlight and attracts insects.
 

False Rue Anemone
Isopyrum biternatum



I found this large group of False Rue Anemone in a moist wooded place.  It has delicate white flowers, with rounded leaves. The "true" Rue Anemone grows on drier slopes.



Source: Julian A.Steyermark, Flora of Missouri,Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1981.
Text and photos by Peter Callaway.

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